Dolphins GM Head Scratcher
By Brian Miller
No, the Miami Dolphins haven’t found a new GM yet but consider the search another NFL life lesson for owner Stephen Ross. When you get excited that Dennis Hickey had a great interview, there might be a problem. I’m not complaining about the process and since we don’t know the end result I’m not complaining about that either. But Dennis Hickey? Really?
Stephen Ross should step back and realize that his franchise is not as ideal as he would think. It used to be. It used to be the prime franchise but that is a “used to be” now. The reality is that people can spin it any way they want to, myself included, and say that having the top four executives decline even an interview, sorry there is a problem. An internal one.
Consider that Miami has a potential franchise QB. A couple of Pro-Bowlers on each side of the ball. A full load of draft picks and a salary cap that offers another off-season spending spree if a new GM so desires. The franchise also has an owner who is willing to spend the money. So what the hell is wrong?
When Baltimore Ravens Assistant GM Eric DeCosta declined to interview it was meant with a, “yeah figured that” mentality. DeCosta is in line to be the next Ravens GM and has a lot of involvement with the Ravens. He turned down three clubs last season and both Miami and Tampa this year. I agree this is not a reflection on the franchise.
The Dolphins asked to interview Tom Gamble of the Eagles who was supposed to be (rumored as) the top choice of Stephen Ross. Ross didn’t get a foot in the door. Gamble moved from San Francisco to Philly to be closer to his father. So, o.k. can understand that one as well.
Had Miami’s search for a GM ended there in terms of declination from candidates we might be good but they then asked to speak with Scot McLoughlin of the Seahawks. He declined through the team saying that he was happy in Seattle. In Seattle as a personnel guy not a GM. Don’t want to live in Miami? I can buy that, not wanting to leave an assistant position with no chance in sight of a promotion and turns down a “real” GM job…not buying that one. Not completely anyways.
Of course the real stunner came in the form of George Paton of the Minnesota Vikings who declined to interview for the Dolphins. Paton instead opted to stay with the Vikings and a new head coach and…working for GM Rick Spielman. Yes, that same Rick Spielman. Not to say I wanted Paton as the GM. I don’t and didn’t but to be told no? I hope it was only a matter of Paton realizing he had little to know chance of getting hired.
The Dolphins have interviewed Ray Farmer from Cleveland and while he may be close to ready for that role, he hasn’t done anything stellar with his career thus far. He worked for a Chiefs team that wasn’t very good and a Browns team who just fired their one year head coach. The Dolphins seem to be very high on Brian Xanders who held the GM job in Denver, had some decent player additions, lost his job when Elway came on board and took over the power, and last year was with the Lions. By default, Xanders should be the top guy.
A few others like Lake Dawson interviewed but the notion that Dennis Hickey is now a possible top choice should make you cringe. At least a little. Consider this one issue with Hickey. His career has been made in Tampa Bay where it is said he is highly respected. Two teams this year have GM vacancies, Miami and Tampa. Of those two Hickey has interviewed for one and hasn’t been asked to interview for the other.
That should say something.
The fact Tampa isn’t offering Hickey an interview after so many years with the team is the red flag that goes up for me. It should be a red flag for Ross as well. The entire process should be a flag for Ross. Perhaps his best course of action should be to leave the structure in place as it is. Let Dawn Aponte handle the cap, Brian Gaine and Joe Philbin handle the personnel and give them one year to prove it works. If it doesn’t? Fire them all next season and give a real GM a shot at being a real GM and remove any doubt a candidate might have to the contrary.